Kennedy Center Expansion Will Add Pavilions Next to Original

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., plans to begin construction next March on a $100-million, three-pavilion expansion project totaling 60,000 sq ft. Sited on four acres adjacent to the original multivenue performance building—located alongside the Potomac River and completed in 1971—the pavilions will provide space for classrooms, rehearsal rooms and performances. A pedestrian bridge spanning the Rock Creek Parkway will connect the complex with Washington's waterfront trail network. Kennedy Center officials originally had planned to add two pavilions and a new wharf-based performance space but were unable to gain approval from the National Capital Planning Commission. Colocating the performance space with a cafe in a third pavilion likely will delay the project's completion by as much as 15 months, with September 2018 now the target opening date.

Miami College, Contractor Settle Over Garage Collapse

Miami Dade College on May 11 announced it has reached a $33.5-million settlement with builders of a parking garage that collapsed while under construction in 2013, killing four workers. Numerous firms, including general contractor Ajax Building Corp., will pay the school $26.5 million while waiving an estimated $7 million owed for previously performed work, according to reports. MDC plans to use the settlement to fund demolition of the collapsed structure and construction of a new garage.

April Construction Jobless Rate Shows Significant Improvement

Construction's unemployment rate in April plunged to 7.5% from its year- earlier 9.5% as the industry gained 45,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 8 reported that construction's jobless rate also was down from March's 9.4%. The 7.5% rate last month was the industry's best April figure since 2006, when the level was 6.9%. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said construction's 45,000 job gains "exceed all expectations." Specialty-trade contractors set the pace, adding 41,000. But Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said "job growth remains spotty" among sectors. Heavy-civil engineering did pick up 8,400, but non-residential building lost 7,800. Robert Murray, Dodge Data & Analytics chief economist, sees "favorable" prospects for non-residential building jobs. He notes that commercial and institutional building starts both recorded double-digit increases last year. (ENR is part of Dodge Data &Analytics.)

MOX Project Shift Would Slash Costs, DOE Report Suggests

A Dept. of Energy-sanctioned report on plutonium disposition options, citing uncertainties related to constructing the Mixed-Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility project in South Carolina, makes the case that shifting to a new approach would be less costly than continuing the MOX program. The report estimates the life-cycle program cost of converting weapons-grade plutonium into MOX fuel at $47.5 billion. "Downblending"—mixing plutonium with other materials—would cost $17.2 billion. The report also estimates it will cost $9.4 billion to finish the MOX facility and says completion dates range between 2043 and 2099. The MOX project, which has been under construction since 2007, initially was slated to be completed in 2016.